A typical modern household contains plenty of new items and products that didn't even exist 10 years ago, and might not still exist 10 years from now. But other brands and products have shown far more longevity — some of the brand-name items in your cabinets and closets are the same ones your grandparents bought, and possibly even their grandparents before them. Here are 31 products you can buy today that were also sold in your grandparents' day.
Aluminum was the wonder metal of the early 20th century. One popular use for aluminum was as lightweight cookware to replace heavy cast-iron pans, but unfortunately aluminum pots blacken very easily, especially over the coal-fired stoves most often used at the time, and blackened aluminum is very difficult to clean (especially before the invention of modern detergents).
In the early 1900s, a cookware peddler and his jeweler brother improvised a solution by combining soap and jeweler's rouge with steel wool. The product sold well, but the brothers lacked the money or know-how to patent their idea, so they took it to attorney Milton Loeb, who agreed to provide these services in exchange for part interest in their "scouring pad" business. Brillo pads first went on the market in 1913, and to this day Loeb is honored as a founder of the company, though Brillo's website doesn't mention the name of the jeweler or the cookware peddler.
Not until the 1950s did automatic dishwashers start becoming commonplace items in American kitchens — yet the machines might never have taken off without the accessory of dishwashing detergent (rather than old-fashioned soap) powerful enough to get the dishes clean. Cascade dishwashing detergent first went on the market in 1953. For four decades, Cascade was available only in powder form, though in the 1990s owner Procter & Gamble released liquid and gel versions of its detergent.
In the early 20th century, the most common toilet paper in America was probably pages torn out of the Sears catalog. Toilet paper sold on a cardboard roll appeared in the 1890s, and in 1928 Wisconsin's Hoberg Paper Co. started producing and selling a softer version of this paper. According to legend, one company employee said the paper was "charming" — and that's how Charmin got its name. In the 1950s, the Hoberg Paper Co. changed its name to Charmin Paper Co.
Unlike many corporate mascots such as Betty Crocker, Chef Boyardee was a real person: an Italian immigrant named Hector Boiardi, who came to America in 1914 and immediately found work as a restaurant chef. By 1924, Boiardi opened an Italian restaurant of his own, where his signature spaghetti dish was so popular that customers said they wished they could make it themselves at home. So Boiardi started selling take-out meal kits containing cheese, dried pasta, and a jar of marinara sauce.
The take-out kits grew so popular that in 1928, Boiardi and his family started the Chef Boiardi Food Co. The products sold fairly well, except Boiardi's American salesmen had difficulty pronouncing his last name, which is why he switched to the phonetic "Chef Boy-Ar-Dee." Chef Boyardee's inexpensive and tasty products sold well even during the Depression, and in World War II, Chef Boyardee cans were included in Allied soldiers' rations.
Aluminum foil, when first introduced to the market, was considered a vastly superior food-storage alternative to the tinfoil that people had used since the early 19th century: tin is less malleable than aluminum, and when used to wrap food it leaves a "tinny" taste behind.
Tinfoil manufacturer Richard Reynolds founded the U.S. Foil Co. after World War I, mostly making tinfoil for his brother R. J. Reynolds' tobacco products. Richard Reynolds also worked on developing aluminum foil, which first went on the market as Reynolds Wrap in 1947.
Popcorn's popularity predates the United States of America — but branded popcorn is barely more than a century old. In 1913, Iowan Cloid Smith and his son Howard founded the American Pop Corn Co. with a single product, which they dubbed Jolly Time Pop Corn. In 1914, the company's first year of operation, the Smiths sold 75,000 pounds of popcorn to Americans. Jolly Time's popcorn won the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval in 1925, and has kept it ever since.
In August, Nabisco made headlines over a design change in its boxes of Barnum's animal crackers, abandoning its 116-year-old "circus cage" design to show the animals roaming free instead.
While the design has changed, the name remains the same: the little cookies were named after P.T. Barnum, of "Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus" fame. That circus closed down in 2017, but the cookies it inspired are still available for sale.
Pampers were the first readily available disposable diapers on the American consumer market, invented a Procter & Gamble researcher who greatly disliked changing (and saving, and washing) his grandchildren's dirty cloth diapers.
The first Pampers diapers went on sale in 1961. Ten years later, Procter and Gamble introduced another innovation: disposable diapers equipped with sealable sticky-tape, to do away with the former requirement for diaper pins.